We returned home from Fiji yesterday after a wonderful week of touring the main island.
My husband and I travelled, with a group from Australia, with Tourist Transport Fiji who provided an air-conditioned coach and a wonderful tour guide, Lydia. Lydia was very knowledgable about everything Fijian and during the course of the week we learnt much about the history, culture and customs of the people.
The Fijian people are the most friendly people on earth. They are content with their simple, uncluttered lives and seem very happy that way. The highlight of our trip was a visit to LAWAI VILLAGE on the banks of the Sigatoka River. We took part in a Kava Ceremony and watched the women make pottery. Lawai Village is the oldest pottery village in Fiji. The chief's wife then took us on a tour of the village after which we were invited to join the villagers for lunch. The villagers then entertained us with their beautiful singing and invited us to join them in their traditional dances. This is the REAL FIJI and we felt so honoured to have experienced such a wonderful day with the villagers.
Other places we visited were -
NADI - some people call it a dump and whilst it's not a clean, pristine town we found it quite interesting. While there we stayed at the Tanoa International Hotel near the Airport. Good, clean hotel with comfortable beds and decent food. The buffet breakfast was excellent and the omeletes delicious!
GARDEN OF THE SLEEPING GIANT - . Orchid lovers will enjoy this garden which is a cool, quiet oasis on the outskirts of Nadi. About one hour is enough time to see the garden. A refreshing cool fruit punch was served.
SUVA - We toured the important areas of Suva which again we found quite interesting before stopping off at the Fiji Museum. The museum is really worth a visit for those who want to learn about Fiji's past. Overnight at the Raffles Tradewinds Hotel on Lami Bay. Their rooms need an update but the view from balcony overlooking the bay was lovely. The floating restaurant was great.
PACIFIC HARBOUR ARTS VILLAGE - We participated in their fascinating Island Boat Tour which was another opportunity to experience the Fijian culture. There are also shops and restaurants there to enjoy.
CORAL COAST - We spent three days at the Naviti Resort. We were fortunate to be allocated a room in the new wing which was very stylish and overlooked the ocean. It was while there we visited Lawai Village and the Sigatoka Sand Dunes. SIGATOKA SAND DUNES are called a desert by the Fijians but we didn't really think they were very interesting apart from the driftwood on the beach. To view the dunes there is a steep climb involved and the sand is quite grey in colour.
Recommendation for the ladies - there is a hut on the edge of the village next to the Naviti where the native women will braid hair, paint beautiful designs on your fingernails, do massages etc. for very reasonable prices. I had my nails painted with a Fijian sunset for just $25 total!
KULA ECO PARK - This wildlife park is well worth a visit. You can even handle some of the animals, eg. snakes and iguanas!
TIVUA ISLAND DAY CRUISE - Captain Cook Cruises operate this tour. For just $F95 we sailed on the beautiful Tall Ship Ra Marama to the picturesque island surrounded by coral reef. A delicious lunch was included as well as guided snorkelling, glass bottom boat over the reef, Kava ceremony, beach volleyball and canoes and also music and entertainment. Also all drinks were included as well as morning and afternoon tea and transfers from Nadi, Coral Coast and Lautoka. The day was great value and highly recommended.
DINNER CRUISE -- Captain Cook Cruises also operate this cruise into the sunset while enjoying a three-course a la carte dinner. Excellent.
LAUTOKA - Lautoka is Fiji's second largest city behind Suva and we think the cleanest and best looking. While there we visited the markets which was really interesting.
This was our first trip to Fiji and one we will never forget. We were so impressed by the friendliness of the people, their simple contented way of life and their beautiful country that we feel blessed to have had the opportunity to visit Fiji and would love to return one day.